Canada moves forward on plans for safe drug injection sites
BY Advocate.com Editors
December 12 2002 1:00 AM ET
A parliamentary committee recommended on Monday that Canada establish "safe" injection sites as a way to cut the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis among drug addicts, a proposal that generated immediate criticism from police and opposition politicians. The safe-site proposal draws on experiences in European countries such as the Netherlands and is the latest in a series of recommendations to relax Canada's drug laws, despite warnings from the United States that doing so could exacerbate problems at the border. But House of Commons Special Committee on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs chairwoman Paddy Torsney rejected the U.S. warnings, saying the status quo was simply unacceptable.
"People are using drugs," she told reporters after submitting a study on injection-drug use to the parliamentary committee. "Let's deal with the health problem. They're somebody's brother or sister, and they're deserving of our care."
The proposal for safe injection sites involves allowing addicts to bring heroin or other illegal drugs to a room where they can inject the drugs without penalty, under the supervision of medically trained personnel to prevent the drug users from sharing needles or overdosing. But police blasted the recommendation, saying injection-drug sites would do nothing to deal with the violent crimes committed by addicts who need to fund their habits and would merely further encourage the drug culture.